A Reason to Celebrateby Natalie Jacobs February 27, 2017
Turn on the news or scroll through social media these days and it doesn’t seem like there’s much worth celebrating. Every day brings a new assault on truth, stability and the morale of the American people. But the Jewish Journal’s editorial calendar is not as malleable as the news cycle, so in March, we celebrate Jewish celebrations. And now that we think about it, we’re actually happy for the momentary diversion.
Brie Stimson has compiled our annual Simchas Resource Guide with all the updated contact information for local vendors who will help make your party sparkle. Plus, that section features a handful of personal stories that get to the heart of why it’s worth enduring all of the pain that party-planning will (inevitably) bring – a mother looks back on her three children’s B’nai Mitzvah, a young girl explains why it was important to her that she honor the Bat Mitzvah tradition, and a West Coast artist explores her modern take on the Jewish wedding document.
That’s not to say that this issue is all theme parties and flowery ketubahs. The San Diego History Center is opening a huge exhibition (taking up nearly 10,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space in the Balboa Park institution) that explores this region’s Jewish history. Turns out, Jewish families have been here since California became a state in 1850. The show’s guest curator, Joellyn Zollman, introduced me to a few of these adventurous Jews who, as she puts it, were eager to forge new paths “at the edge of the world.”
As our cover image suggests, the SDHC exhibition touches on Jewish history up until today (because, as Zollman points out, history started yesterday). In 1973 it was Jewish San Diegans marching in Banker’s Hill in support of Israeli independence. In 2017, it is rabbis and Jewish San Diegans making their voices heard on the President’s now-defunct travel ban. A last-minute gathering co-hosted by all of the major Jewish organizations in town brought together more than 800 Jewish San Diegans who were concerned about the ban and its implications for refugees. To dig deeper into these sentiments, we pulled together a round-up of Jewish voices on this matter and have published excerpts in the following pages (full text of the op-eds are available on our website). While the courts have nullified the executive order, it’s still worth unpacking these opinions because, at less than two months into this new administration, we are fairly certain that this issue is far from settled.
One of the most riveting revelations of this issue is actually about the exact opposite of a celebration – the possibility of war. There are plenty of ways that the dominoes could fall as a result of any number of international calamities, but Professor Jacob Goldberg makes a strong case for keeping an eye on Russia. He’ll go into the topic further during his three-night lecture series at the JCC, but on pg. 50 he introduces the Russia-Israel-United States “frenemy” situation as the most important and least talked about issue facing the U.S. and its Middle Eastern BFF.
And if after all of that you’re ready for another diversion, there are a few more articles toward the end of this issue to focus your attention. Pat Launer gives us a taste of the Lisa Kron repertory happening now at Diversionary Theatre. One play looks at a mother-daughter relationship mired by illness, and the other is a moving monologue about a father-daughter relationship punctuated by the Holocaust. And in the actual “Diversions” feature for this month, a look at Iran’s Oscar submission and what it says about the American Dream.